The basics of a ketogenic diet are mainly consuming healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, and a low amount of carbohydrates. To achieve weight loss a state called ketosis should be reached. Ketosis is a state where your body uses fats as a source of energy instead of carbohydrates. It occurs when you limit carbohydrates consumption to <50g per day, and consume high-fat food. The existence of ketone bodies in blood and urine reveals that a person is in ketosis. A blood ketone level between 0.5 – 3.0 mg/dL shows that your body is in the ketosis state.
Why Aren’t You Reaching Ketosis?
Several factors act as a barrier and prevent you from reaching ketosis. Below are the most common reasons that might be preventing you from reaching optimal ketosis:
Consuming Too Many Carbs
Carbohydrates should only be between 5% to 10% of the total calorie intake. Consuming carbohydrates more than the recommended percentage won’t allow an individual to enter ketosis. This means that a person should decrease their amount of carbs by 20g to 50g per day. The person might feel that they have achieved the required percentage, but in reality, they haven’t. This leads the body to produce glucose as a form of energy, inhibiting the body from burning fat. In this case, it becomes essential to use a food scale to track the number of carbs being consumed.
Excess Allowed-Carb Intake
People following the keto diet can have fruits and vegetables as a source of carbohydrates. However, because of the hunger factor, people might consume too much of the allowed carbs without noticing. Keep in mind that a serving of fruit has about 15g of carbohydrates, while vegetables have 6g of carbohydrates.
Other allowable foods in the keto diet such as nuts and dairy have carbs. People might snack on nuts in high amounts because of their fat content, not realizing that some nuts do have more carbs than others. For example, pecans, macadamia nuts, and brazil nuts have the lowest amount of carbohydrates compared to cashews, pistachios, and almonds.
In order to avoid overconsumption of carbs and ensure you hit ketosis, portion control is key.
Eating too much Protein
There is a widespread misconception that the ketogenic diet is low in carbs and high in protein. But the truth is, a ketogenic diet is mainly high in fats. Because of this, people tend to eat too much protein which leads to gluconeogenesis- the breakdown of excess amino acids into different types of sugar. This prevents the body from going into ketosis because sugar is used by the body as a form of energy instead of fats.
Not Being Active Enough
Exercise is important when following a keto diet because it helps deplete glycogen stores. For a person following a keto diet, their main aim is to reach ketosis. This is achieved by eliminating glycogen stored in your liver and muscles.
There are different exercises to do when on the keto diet; they are known as slow or prolonged exercises. Examples include swimming, cycling, and jogging. However, any exercise of your choice would be a good option. Try to move as much as possible to deplete glycogen stores and reach ketosis.
Too Much Alcohol
Yes! Alcohol can be consumed during the keto diet, but make sure you are not overconsuming it. Alcohol contains carbs and is broken down into molecules known as acetate. The body then uses acetate as an energy source, again unable to use fat as an energy source.
There are several alcohols that are low in carbohydrates:
- Light Beer
Keep in mind that a moderate amount of alcohol can be consumed when following a keto diet so to avoid using any other source than fat as energy.
Using Sugar Alcohols Excessively
Usually, when sugar alcohols are consumed they aren’t fully absorbed by the body, so some carbs remain unabsorbed causing a slight rise in blood sugar levels. Sugar alcohols are used when on the keto diet, but there are various types of sugar alcohols, some of which affect blood sugar levels.
Some sugar alcohols are better absorbed than others and thus are more tolerated for people following a keto diet. To check if the sugar alcohols are better tolerated or not, the glycemic index is measured; it shows how fast foods can raise blood sugar levels.
Maltitol has the highest glycemic index, compared to erythritol, isomalt, sorbitol, and xylitol. So next time when you want to choose sugar alcohol, make sure you avoid maltitol and choose something keto-friendly that is low in GI, this will help you reach ketosis faster.
Entering a ketosis state is hard and not an easy task for many people following a ketogenic diet, and several reasons can act as a barrier. The Keto diet has its own rules and strategies so it is important to stick to them to reach ketosis and lose weight if this is your goal.
Nonetheless, a person might need to do some small changes when following a keto diet to reach ketosis, and check the hidden reasons that the person might not be aware of such as consuming too many carbs from alcohol or eating too many vegetables.